THE Cebu Provincial Tourism Office spearheaded the Cebu Youth Tourism Summit yesterday to celebrate the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development declared by the United Nations.
Tourism Officer Boboi Costas said the summit was attended by 343 youth leaders from different universities and other parts of the province.
“Sustainable tourism is the model by which all kinds of tourism are patterned after and the standard by which all kinds of tourism are measured against. Sustainable implies a commitment by the tourist to making a low impact on the surrounding environment and local culture, while making a high impact on the immediate community and income generation,” Costas said.
Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said the promotion of sustainable tourism will make Cebu more progressive.
“Indeed, tourism is an economic driver. For every tourist who would come, so many people would benefit. There is the transportation sector from airline to buses, hotels that hired several workers, and even printers who make brochures,” Magpale said.
Magpale said that luckily for Cebu, which is the center of the Philippines and the Philippines which is the center of the universe, we are a number one destination outside of Metro Manila. We have kept that place, but we need to be sustainable.
“Cebu location and accessibility are important. But most of all, we are of Mother Nature’s bounty, and we have hospitable people who have been the magnet for tourists,” Magpale said.
The vice governor said that Cebu has been adjudged the second friendliest island in the whole world.
“This was in the newspapers lately. Cebuanos are second friendliest people,” Magpale said.
She remembered attending an international forum after Cebu was hit by an earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda.
“My first job in this forum was to ask that our annual dues of something like $6,000 shall be waived. So, it did not take me long to convince the other delegates and the secretariat, which was headed by South Korea at that time,” Magpale said.
“You should see how Cebu was devastated by the typhoon. Of course, this was all over. So, we were granted the reprieve of not paying our dues that year,” Magpale said.
However, as she was stepping out of the room for lunch, the finance minister of Malaysia called her aside, and said: “You may be poor as a country, but you know that you are the happiest people in this side of the world?” (EOB)